50 Shades of Red


My name is Jackie DeGiorgio and I’m a red lipstick hoarder.  I love it  and I sport a red pucker every day.  However I didn’t really “embrace” red lipstick until my post-college New York City years. Sure, I have always had a shade of red in my stuffed-to-the-brim caboodle but I had exercised restraint in wearing it. Red says something…it’s the color of blood,  fire trucks, and stop signs. Teachers correct tests with a red pen. The only thing worse than reading an email in a sinister red font is if that red font is all in capital letters.

As a teenager, my aunt had brought me a Clinique shade of red that I did wear everyday, most of the time in the privacy of my home. Fast forward to my post-college NYC years when a friend had introduced me to MAC’s Dubonnet, a deep dark red wine, which, when topped with clear MAC’s clear Lipglass soon became my lip look of choice when waitressing. I thought the pop of color smartly complimented my black waitressing garb. Once my restaurant days were behind me, my use of red lipstick dwindled. I didn’t have the guts to wear it to the office so I saved it for special occasions.

Red lipstick didn’t become part of my daily look until I visited Italy in 2012. That four-week, life-changing trip liberated me on so many levels and of the many literal and figurative items that I brought home with me, daily wear of red lipstick was one of them. From a bland airport outfit to a smart office look to a vamped up night on the town, I had learned that red lipstick brought everything up a notch.

Now, as much as I enjoy the ring of “50 shades of red,” it is a bit of an exaggeration because my red lipstick collection isn’t that large. At least not yet. I’m just over 10% of the way there. I love Chanel’s Gabrielle (bold with a hint of shimmer), Palpitante (raspberry) and Passion (pure, simultaneously restrained and uninhibited) as well as MAC’s Russian Red (matte, blue-toned deep and dark), Ruby Woo (blue-based, bright and radiant) and Lady Danger (matte poppy), and my absolute favorite: Yves Saint Laurent Number 1: Le Rouge (creamy, satiny, attention grabbing). They are all different and all serve their purpose. A friend suggested I check out Guerlain’s reds as there’s lots of colorful kisser love to be enjoyed. Noted.

I’m currently coveting Dolce & Gabbana’s Devil and  I had stopped in the Duty Free shops at Malpensa on my last visit to New York to pick up mascara and thought I’d see if I could buy a tube of Devil. Alas, I had learned the hard way that Dolce & Gabbana’s fragrances only, not cosmetics, are sold in Duty Free. As I made my way to the register, the Christian Dior lipstick display caught my eye so I started looking and politely declined the saleswoman’s offer to help me. Then she watched me examine red after red after red after red. Easy target, she must have thought. She re-approached me and explained that if I’m interested in red, shade 999 is the signature shade, a classic red that Mr. Dior himself created and inaugurated decades ago. When it was first released, it was called number 9 and has since evolved, but the original formula was still the same. Little did she know that I have a penchant for old things–I gravitate towards them like a moth to a flame–and it seemed to me like shade 999 was just that.

“Vuoi provarlo?” she asked me if I wanted to try it on as she was cleaning the surface. Well, twist my arm why don’t you?

She smiled joyfully after the application and told me in Italian that the color was my color. Truly. It was just perfect for me with my complexion and my hair. Plus, she called me mademoiselle. (On a side note, that is not the first time that someone has called me mademoiselle while conversing in Italian, which makes me think that my Italian sounds somewhat French-accented? Not sure how since my French pronunciation is a little worse for wear, but anyhow, I’m digressing.)

Now, I mean this with the utmost humility when I state that she was absolutely right. I looked in the mirror and could not have agreed with her more. Christian Dior shade 999 and I were a match made in heaven if I do say so myself.

Ne prendo uno per favore,” I said. I’ll take one please.

She was one heck of a saleswoman.


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  1. says: hande40

    Guess what: i just bought the 999, because of what you wrote. I discovered red lipstick pretty late in life (just 4 or 5 years ago) and this is number 6!

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